Statement from BESE officers: BESE leadership fortifies efforts to ensure equity, transparency, and student learning on heels of release of federal requirements for states on student assessments of reading and math

Feb 24, 2021, 17:21 PM by BESE Admin

On February 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) issued guidance and extended regulatory flexibility to states regarding assessment, accountability, and reporting requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. The letter from the USDOE to state education leadership is linked here.

BESE President Sandy Holloway, Vice President Kira Orange Jones, and Secretary Treasurer Ashley Ellis issued the following statement:

"As BESE Leadership responsible for the education of over 804,000 students across Louisiana, we believe there are few issues more critical to ensuring equity, transparency, and student learning than assessing students. Not assessing all students prevents families and teachers from gathering invaluable student data and insights that can then be used to support student learning. In a year of a sustained global pandemic, impactful hurricane season, and recent winter storms unlike anything we have seen in decades, the lost learning for students was inevitable. Assessing all students not only helps us understand what learning gaps have been created or widened, but also what we must do to close them.

Absent of an assessment of students' learning, students who were already struggling, are vulnerable or have special needs are the very students who – without the data and then subsequent interventions – will be most negatively impacted by lost days of instruction. We must not allow our students to risk falling farther behind and losing college and career opportunities as a result. Families, schools, and educators deserve to know where each student is in his or her academic trajectory.

There is no more important issue to ensuring students get what they need to succeed than assessing their knowledge and transparently sharing the data so it can be used to get them where they need to go.

We are proud that Louisiana has remained committed both to the health and safety of students and educators and the in-person instruction of students. We are following the data and the science on both fronts. Many states across the country have struggled to do both well, and our states' educators are to be commended for this. We are also incredibly proud that our legislative and state leaders – in partnership with BESE - recently made sure that educators are top priority for receiving the vaccine, some as early as this week.

We are so proud of our educators and leaders who have worked so hard to continue educating students in such an unprecedented time. It has been a challenge that many states have struggled to overcome. The leadership shown across our state to educate children is unmatched.

We must now continue this commitment to educating and supporting students and therefore closing resulting equity gaps that could hamper students for the rest of their lives. We believe that assessing students' learning is critical; not to do so would be nothing short of gross negligence – creating far too great a burden for Louisiana to carry and potentially crippling students, families, and communities for generations.

We must believe in the ability of our students to learn, grow, and thrive. We must understand where they are and use the academic data to help them. We must remain committed to giving every child an opportunity to realize a life full of possibilities and prosperity."

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For more information, contact:
Kevin Calbert

BESE is the administrative policymaking body for elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana. The Board sets key education initiatives and works to outline an education agenda to achieve continuous improvement of public education as measured by student and school achievement.